- A refugee is any person who cannot return to his home country out of fear he will be persecuted because of his race, religion, political opinion or national origin.
- Oregon has welcomed more than 60,000 refugees since 1975. The majority of those new residents have come from the former Soviet Union and Vietnam.
- One year after arrival, a refugee can apply for permanent resident status. Five years after that she can apply for citizenship (free citizenship classes are available at our library).
Oregon's resettlement agencies:
... contract with the U.S. State Department to resettle refugees in Oregon. These agencies assure each family is welcomed at the airport, has a furnished apartment and appropriate clothes. They make sure families are scheduled for a mandatory health screening, and help them secure food, utility and rent assistance. They also hold workshops to introduce families to everything from public schools and libraries to police stations and health clinics.
In addition to these nonprofits, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, known as IRCO, works with the resettlement agencies to help new residents navigate public transportation and secure a job. IRCO also offers a host of other programs including classes, community building, leadership trainings and social service referral.
Beyond the initial 90-day resettlement period, refugees are eligible for financial and medical benefits through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for their first eight months in the country and equal to amounts given to families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
- The Cultural Orientation Resource Center provide videos and guides in dozens of languages to help new residents better understand what to expect and how to navigate in the United States. It also has resources for citizens who want to better understand the needs of their new neighbors.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Portland office is located downtown on Trimet bus route 17 and 77
- The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement has a wealth of information on services and policies for refugee residents
- The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration provides general information on the refugee admission and placement process.